Morning Mantras of Muizenberg
Now that we have arrived at the third destination of our trip, a neighbourhood called Observatory, or ‘Obz’ by the locals, I felt like it was time to reflect on our very distinct morning routines during our week in Muizenberg. The town’s colourful seaside look allowed for a multitude of activities and was inviting us to forget about our work for just a second when we wandered past its many touristy shops, bars, and surfboard rentals. Nevertheless, the people of IEP kept up with their individual morning rituals, all very different from each other.
For the most part, the group can be split in two, the wanderers and the surfers – despite the fact that neither was totally loyal to either group. The wanderers would wake up rigorously at 7:30 a.m in order to catch a glimpse of the sunrise dipping the clouds into a lemony yellow and the sea into a blinding reflection of the first morning rays. Strolling across the beach, Karina (the most passionate and fast-walking one) led them all. Starting the walks on her own, she quickly gained the other girls as fellow wanderers on the second day. Occasionally, a morning had to be skipped, in order to catch up on sleep after some of the many late “family” dinners on the hostel terrace, which overlooks the bay. On most days though, everyone came back refreshed and ready to start the chilly day ahead. They would make the others, who were just crawling out of their bunk beds, jealous when they spoke about how they already caressed their faces in the South African morning sun to smoothly fuel up on energy for the day.
The other group, the surfers, started their day a bit later, pulled out of their beds by the enthusiasm in Matej’s voice which they could hear whisper in their ears “the tide is calling”. Lisa, Megan, Jovan, Matej and Tiziana set off at 8 a.m, or 7:45 a.m; there have been some long-held discussions about that discrepancy regarding their daily morning workout, lovingly referred to as “surfy-surf”. The surfers met in the hostel cafe, pillow marks still on their faces to embark on a quick walk along the nori sheet smelling beach to Gary’s surf shop. There, they would rent foamy longboards, colourful wetsuits (outing them as total beginners) and booties, because the Atlantic over here is freezing – and freezing limbs should not be one of the group’s many minor problems. Some of their daily battles included hair consistently being ripped out by the velcro of their wetsuits, being blinded by the reflection of sunshine, losing balance during attempts of ‘popping up’ and algae tangling up their feet which felt like a corpse under water. But there were also bright moments, like when Megan did yoga poses on her surfboard; or when Jovan attempted to dance on his board while Matej, their teacher, made headstands on his. Tizi even spotted a seal next to her, reminding her that she may look like a seal to a shark, which could be right below her dangling legs.
All of these events, fascinating as they were, also quickly emptied their wallets, therefore substitute routines were sought. I decided to pick up my meditation routine again, even though it is challenging to find a quiet spot that is equally sheltered from the morning rain and comfortable to sit. I was dedicated to go through with it and the terrace seemed like the best spot. I walked outside, chose a fitting ‘guided meditation’ for the day, sat upright, pulled my hood up (to really get into ‘that zone’) palms lightly placed in my lap as I pressed play. After a few minutes of a calm British male voice delivering a relaxing start to my morning, filled with positive affirmations and notions of gratitude, I was suddenly pulled out of the soothing recording by a hand on my shoulder: A disturbed and worried looking Matej glanced down at me. As the minute count of the meditation app kept running on the phone’s screen he had been worried because he thought I was holding my breath – after watching Chasing Mavericks the night prior it did not seem too unlikely to have considered giving timing one’s breathing a try.